It’s often said that good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment. However, leadership requires more than just good judgment and experience.
We’ve all grown up observing leaders, from our homes and family life, our teachers, historical figures, and even those in film and television. Probably the most influential leaders we remember are the ones for whom we have worked. We cherish the time spent serving with phenomenal bosses, but we must also hold dear the times we’ve served with those who sometimes miss the mark. It’s important to examine their traits, study their ways, and vow to never repeat their bad habits. Some of our very best learning comes from serving under truly horrible bosses.
True leaders aren’t born, self-made, or self-appointed. They’re cultivated, nurtured, and helped to mature, and have gained the necessary education and experience to help them inspire the best in others.
Working Your Way Up
There is much in the literature about the benefits of military service and how some of the best leaders have served in the military. The reason is quite simple: To advance in the military, you must study and acquire the experience and knowledge to prove your worthiness. For example, a colonel in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army doesn’t simply become one without at least completing the Command and General Staff College, serving time as a battalion surgeon, commanding a battalion, or by being a residency program director. It takes at least 16 to 18 years of education, practice, and experience to attain the rank of colonel.
The same is true for a department chair, a medical school dean, member of a board of trustees, or a member of the ACEP Board of Directors or ACEP Council Officer. You don’t become a department chair by just showing up, or become the President of the United States because you’ve watched all the seasons of The West Wing or House of Cards. You must first prove to be a good follower, as you cannot properly lead without knowing how to be an effective follower.
It’s without question that if ACEP members wish to consider higher college leadership, they must cultivate their skills beyond just their everyday jobs. You don’t become an ACEP board member without at least progressing through the ranks at the chapter level, participating on committees, and being a Councillor, in addition to experiencing life as a staff physician, medical director, or chair. If you’ve ever considered leadership in the ACEP, there is guidance available to help you get more involved.
Nurturing ACEP Leadership
The Leadership Development Advisory Group (LDAG) was introduced at the 2011 ACEP Council meeting. Consisting of past ACEP leaders, the LDAG strives to identify young ACEP members with leadership potential and mentor and guide them through their maturation in the college. “The Grid,” similar to that used by the U.S. Army Medical Corps’ active life cycle and utilization, was also introduced (see Figure 1). The Grid serves as a guide, rather than requirements, for those who wish to rise through the ACEP ranks. It lists some of the vital milestones necessary to be a viable and productive council officer or board member.